Patrick Swayze called contracting pancreatic cancer a “death sentence” in his new audio book, Time of My Life — recorded in August and available today.
“When my doctors at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles said the words ‘pancreatic cancer,’ a single thought popped into my head: I’m a dead man,” Swayze says. “Now, a lot of things go through your head when you get a death sentence handed to you, starting with: ‘Why me?’ It’s hard not to sink into bitterness … For me, that initial shock quickly turned into self-criticism and blame.”
“I just stared at him in shock. I had gone in for a simple gastrointestinal procedure, then all of a sudden â€” surprise! You could be dead before springtime!” he continued. “Fear sliced through me. What the f*** had just happened? I had been so excited about the upswing my life was on. Now it all seemed like a cruel joke. I couldn’t be dying…I had too much to live for! I just couldn’t face the idea that life as I’d always known it was over, that there was a disease inside me that would grow and mutate and eventually kill me. I didn’t know where I would find the strength to deal with it.”
Defiant until the end, the star — whose filmography includes The Outsiders, Dirty Dancing, and Ghost –admitted he was “not ready to go” and vowed not to stop fighting the cancer “before he was good and ready.”
“So I said to my doctor, ‘Show me where the enemy is and I’ll fight him.’ It was “the most challenging, eye-opening battle I’ve ever had,” he continued.
“Facing your own mortality is the quickest way possible to find out what you’re made of. It strips away all the bullshit and exposes every part of you, your strength, your weaknesses, your sense of self, your soul. It also leads you to confront life’s hardest questions.”
Simon & Schuster audiobook producer Elisa Shokoff worked with Patrick and his wife Lisa Niemi recording his audiobook. She recalls how the actor battle terrible pain to finish the recordings.They would begin at dusk and work late into the night.
“Before, in-between and after recording, it was clear that Patrick was gravely ill and in terrible pain. But when he was actually reading, the weight of his illness seemed to lift and it was easy to forget that he was even sick. From him, a wonderful, kind, cowboy-storyteller emerged, full of life and humor and a heightened compassion. The resulting audiobook is a testament to the great and graceful performer that he was.”